In our article – Top-Rated Attractions of British Columbia – we will discuss the western Canadian province – British Columbia – which is nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The third most populous province of Canada is a must-visit for people who wish to enjoy everything nature has to offer. With an assortment of dynamic landscapes, it offers scenic stretches of coastline along the pacific, majestically looming mountains owing to the Rockys, and when the season is just right, provides skiing facilities to those who choose to be sporty as well.
With most tourism directed towards Vancouver Centrally, it is to be noted that British Columbia has other scenic cities to be visited such as the small, remote village of Victoria which is located on Vancouver Island and is visited by outdoor activity enthusiasts for its expanses of parkland and Flower gardens. Other treats include snowy ski resorts dotting the Okanagan Valley that provide for a family getaway in the interior of one of Canada’s most beautiful provinces.
Having been influenced mostly by the British who colonized the area in the 1850’s, British Columbia is home to the origin of the Columbia River in the Rocky Mountains. With its many Castles to visit that shed light on its past, British Columbia is indeed a part of Canada that must be on your itinerary while travelling and here are the reasons why:
History of British Columbia
The original inhabitants of the land we today refer to as British Columbia were the First Nation People with their own indigenous languages and ways of life. Archeological evidence places them in this province thousands of years ago. Their legacy lives on in the present time through British Columbia’s many festivals, its culture and quite a few of the cities such as Nanaimo and Chilliwack bear names with roots in the indigenous language.
British Columbia’s history saw major changes when the British, American and Spanish colonists arrived on the land in the 1750’s as fur traders. This advent of Europeans brought about a significant decline in the population of the inddegenous people owing to the epidemics (like smallpox) that they brought with them. This is cited as one of the predominant reasons for the drop in the number of indegenous people in the area.
In 1849, the primary colonists of Vancouver Island were the British. The gold rush attracted multitudes of people in subsequent years and in the year 1871, British Columbia was freed from its status as a British colony and was melded into Canada. Trade and Commerce improved further when the Railway was introduced in the year 1885. From here, this Canadian city saw enormous growth economically and this aided the provision Dams. This prompted people from surrounding areas to migrate to British Columbia to make it the place it is today.
Geography and Climate
Geographically, British Columbia is surrounded by the American states Idaho, Montana and Washington in the south with American province Alberta to the East. This proximity to American territories provides British Columbia with history that is influenced by American States like California. Further, it sits with the Pacific ocean to its west which contributes to the beautiful Coastline and many beaches. The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, which mostly constitutes Temperate rainforests where it isn’t populated by people. The Coast mountains are credited for the splendid scenery of British Columbia which promote tourism as well.
The province is split with respect to climate. This is because of the mild rainy climate along the southern Coastline which transforms into warm, Mediterranean climate as one goes further south owing to the North Pacific Current. It possesses the mildest annual temperature in all of Canada’s populated regions at 12C. Areas in the Southern Interior Valley experience short winters with small periods of heavy snowfall. This poses a contrast to Heavy snowfall found around Highly Mountainous areas of Southern and Central British Columbia which constitute the ski bases. Northern Interiors generally face severe winters.
Wilderness and Wildlife
British Columbia is a mostly undeveloped area which makes it a very wildlife friendly place. Many species of animals that face endangerment in the United States are found thriving in the Mediterranean Forests of this province. The province is home to a wide variety of birds and animals that include Bears (Grizzly and Black), Deer, Moose, Mountain Goats, Marmots, wolves, Beavers, Cougars, Canada Geese, Swans, Owls, Harlequin Ducks and many, many others. Aquatic life is abundant and consists mainly of Salmon, Char and Trout. Harbour Seals and Otters are common as well. Orcas, Grey Whales and Humpback Whales are some of the species native to the region. British Columbia is a treasure trove of wildlife and is a destination every wildlife enthusiast needs to visit.
Best Attractions of British Columbia
British Columbia offers a wide range of activities and places to visit and here is a list of some of the places you wouldn’t want to miss:
- Okanagan Valley
Home to a number of important wineries of Canada, Okanagan Valley is located in the interiors of British Columbia. This region has around 8619 acres of vineyards and contributes to more than 80% of the wine produced in Canada. Apart from this, the valley is also known for its beautiful stretches of beach, orchards, and mountains that draw people here from places far and wide. During the summers, tourists can lounge around on the beaches or go golfing. The valley is also famous for Ski Resorts that operate year-round. With its warm summers and mild winters, Okanagan doubles as a popular summertime vacation spot for families visiting the area. Whether it is a simple, relaxing time in the vineyards or a sporty vacation on the ski slopes, Okanagan offers it all.
This spectacular Ski Resort is one of British Columbia’s most visited destinations. Whistler is an upscale village which provided the venue for the Downhill Ski Events for the Winter Olympics in 2010 and gained International recognition for the same. While it is predominantly famous for its snowy slopes that are perfect for skiing, it is beneficial to note that Whistler is a tourist destination that operates year round. With its many high end restaurants, hotels and summertime activities, this quaint town appeals to those who wish to spend a non sporty vacation here as well. Some activities offered here include biking and golfing while there is also plenty of beautiful scenery to be explored.
One of the most noted attractions of Whistler is the Peak 2 Peak Gondola which connects the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains over a distance of 4.4 km. In the 11 minutes during which the ride operates, it affords phenomenal views of the surrounding landscape to visitors and moreover, it operates year round. While the winter tourists get to enjoy the views from up top, Summer visitors get an additional bonus of being allowed to explore some of the hiking and walking trails in the area which simply adds to the appeal of the town.
This quaint town which sits on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island is the capital of British Columbia. It is known to have the mildest climate in all of Canada which is influenced partly by the fact that it is sheltered among the towering mountains that surround it as well as the North pacific Current. Known for its beautiful inner Harbour and minimal urbanization, this town looks mostly untouched by the influence of the larger cities in Canada. It offers activities such as water taxis from the Harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf, Butterfly gardens and what makes it all the more appealing is the fact that the town can easily be explored on foot with lots to see and do along the way. Victoria is a place that guarantees a good time for families with children owing to the many gardens, the zoo and Ocean Discovery Centre.
Of the multiple gardens in the area, the Butchart Garden which is a contribution of Jenny Butchart who was the wife of a Limestone quarry owner. The garden also hosts musical performances in the small open areas among the flower patches and pools. The Japanese garden and the Rose Garden inside are some of the most beautiful parts.
- Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is one of the largest islands on the coast of North America and is situated to the west of Vancouver city. It is home to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and is very well known for its inclination towards arts communities. Offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Coastline, the Island’s beaches provide surfing activities that operate year round. One other site to visit would be the Pacific Rim National Park which is home to the Vancouver Island Wolf, a species of indegenous terrestrial mammal as well as the Humpback Whale and the Ochre Sea Star.
- Vancouver’s Stanley Park
Vancouver’s Stanley park is a public park that is home to much of the greenery in the metropolitan city of Vancouver. For those seeking to relax and spend a few hours in the midst of natural rainforest greenery, Stanley Park is the place to go. Owing to its trails that stretch for kilometers and the renowned Seawall of Stanley Park, Tourists get to witness phenomenal views of the English Bay and the snow capped mountains as well as the surrounding Coastline that stretches on as far as the eye can see. The Seawall, in particular, is favored by walkers, bikers or people going for an early morning run for its magnificent views.
The Park is also home to Vancouver Aquarium which is renowned as Canada’s largest aquarium. The park also has a multitude of beautiful gardens and historic Totem Poles erected by the First Nations People.
- Haida Gwaii
Previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, this torch shaped Archipelago located off the Northern Pacific Coast of Canada. Haida Gwaii mainly consists of two islands, Graham Island in the North and Moresby Island in the South along with around 400 other smaller islands that are separated from the mainland by the Hecate Strait. The islands have been the home of the Haida First Nation people for over 13000 years and This Haida Culture adds to the charm of the islands. In comparison to the other places mentioned in this list, the Haida Gwaii islands receive relatively fewer tourists. The indigenous wildlife of the area along with the culture and artistry of the native people have a lot to offer in the line of education. The Totem Poles and carvings were done by the natives add an air of mystery to the islands.
- Hell’s Gate Airtram
Part of the Southern Fraser Canyon, Hell’s Gate is the sudden narrowing of the Fraser River near the Boston Bar. The river is forced through the Walls of Fraser canyon along a passage that is only about 35 meter across. The Air tram is suspended above the powerful waters of the Fraser River that flow about 150 meters below it. It descends into the gorge, providing passengers a spectacular view of the Fraser River and its frothy waters below. In the past, this area was the congregation of the People of the First nation who settled here and started Salmon fishing. Today, visitors can take the Airtram to descend to the other side of the river where they can find a small center that describes the history of the place in great detail.
- Mt. Robson Provincial Park
Located north of The Jasper National Park of Alberta, the Mt.Robson Provincial Park is home to the highest peak in the Rockies, Mt.Robson which stands tall at 3954 meters. It is a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage site as of 1990. This park is one of the oldest in Canada and is known for its variety of camping and hiking trails. Be it remote, valley trails towards the interior or trails and camping sites accessible through vehicles, Mt.Robson Provincial Park has it all and so much more to offer. It is not only home to spectacular waterfalls and lakes, but also to the Headwaters of the powerful Fraser River. The most famous of its trails is the one that leads through the Valley of a Thousand falls straight to a beautiful lake at the foothills of Mt. Robson. Some of its trails are known to operate throughout the year as well.
- Kootenay National Park
This National Park located in Southwestern British Columbia is also a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage site. It’s close proximity to its more well-known neighbors, Yoho National Park and Banff National Park make it an important spot to include in your itinerary. Ther park features hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, and glaciers, all of which are a treat to the eyes of the Beholder. The park makes you feel one with nature with its scenic Campsite. Stanley Glacier and trekking around the Sinclair Pass are among the more famous activities offered by the park.
- Barkerville Town
A hub of Canadian History surrounding the Gold Rush in British Columbia, Barkerville is a historic town and park that was the site of the legendary strike on William’s Creek. This town is situated at the edge of the Cariboo Mountains and today, it is a popular tourist attraction that still appears exactly as it did back when it first sprang up overnight, following the discovery of gold in the area by Billy Barker in 1862. Imitation artists dressed in costumes act out scenes of “live history” that makes visitors feel as though they went back in time to witness the town in its heyday. The town’s Chee Kung Tong Building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2008. The town does not fail to mesmerize visitors with its grand history and is a place worth a visit.
With all that British Columbia has to offer,. It is advisable to plan ahead and make a schedule to follow in order to ensure that you enjoy all that is possible. This beautiful corner of the world promises to satisfy people with all kinds of fancies so make sure to visit British Columbia for a vacation you will not forget. Which of these places would you like to visit first?